`First Time Dead 3' contains thirteen zombie short stories by authors being published for the first time, or authors publishing their first zombie story. TW Brown and company have selected a good variety of zombie stories. To the uninitiated (uninfected), there may seem to be little room for originality among zombie stories, but if they were to read this anthology, it will change their minds.
"Zombie Love" by Sybil Wilen was beautifully written and seemed to move at a zombie's pace. This isn't a negative in this case as the characters were zombies.
"Unquiet Slumbers" * by David Antrobus was an incredible, unique blend of longing and regret. In the end, you'll wonder how the horrible compulsions of zombies compare to those humans harbor.
"No Zombie Fat Chicks" by Jason Bailey was not a flat-out humorous story as the title implies, but it actually had some remorseful undertones, and I found commentary in how men treat women hidden within the outbreak-on-a-college-campus tale.
"Cravings" by Xavier Axelson blended the voodoo and mad scientist horror staples into something dark and mysterious, leaving much hinted at and allowing the reader room to draw some of their own conclusions.
"Taylor's Predicament" * by P.J. Ruce was full of tension and what-ifs. I really loved the hide and seek, life or death, fight or flight situation Taylor found himself in when he left the safety of his shack.
"The Bittersweet Revenge of Coney Island's Jack Blast Off" by Jeffrey McDonald was...a true story? Based on one, more likely. It elegantly captured how things inevitably change when we grow up.
"Graceland" * by John Page wasn't as polished as some of the other stories, but it has this attitude, enthusiasm and flow that made it one of my favorites in this collection. Take a buddy road trip to Graceland, add zombies, and you have the formula for this madcap, funny thriller.
"Catfish Ain't Brain Food" by Susan Burdorf took place on a catfish farm and had a main character that seemed too stupid to live. Regardless, I really enjoyed this story, though I thought the end a little goofy.
"Nina" by Christina Gavi had a great narrative from two points of view. This story is so full of potential, I hope the author continues or expands it in some way.
"The Revenant" * by David Alexander was by far the longest story in this anthology but it was set in a believable world with realistic characters. I loved the ending; it kind of reminded me of some great, old "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits" episodes.
"Anthem of the Damned" by Joanna Parypinski very effectively showed the chaos and confusion of a zombie outbreak; this story was also set on a college campus.
"Twinkle Twinkle" * by Jack Flynn slammed the reader right into the middle of an outbreak, but took careful time to make you care about the main character with skill and subtlety.
"Wake Up Daddy" by Graeme Edwardson was full of emotion and, I believe, will truly affect anyone who is a parent.
* I enjoyed all these stories and each author should be proud of their inclusion, but, as in any collection, there were standouts. The starred stories were my personal favorites.
The diversity of these quality stories is one of the big reasons this anthology works.